Saturday, August 15, 2009

Inside information led to dogfighting crackdown

ST. LOUIS

A federal crackdown on criminal dogfighting last week relied on informants who led undercover authorities to associates in their bloodsport — breeders, promoters, referees, gamblers and fighters.

Papers filed recently in federal court in Kansas City indicate that investigators began talking to an informant in October 2007.

The seasoned dogfighter, a 12-year veteran, provided names of associates in Missouri, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska. They were among 26 people arrested last week following federal raids in at least seven states.

Undercover agents captured the fights, conversations and tours of dogfighting operations on hidden audio and visual recording equipment.

Court papers say the fights drew as much as $5,000 in wagers. They said some participants burned the bodies of underperforming dogs to destroy evidence and avoid being busted like NFL star Michael Vick.